It is most encouraging to see the intensive attention that Maine work force challenges are receiving from the governor, the Legislature, education leaders and the private sector.
Particularly noteworthy are efforts such as Educate Maine’s Project Login. This collaboration between Maine’s public higher education system and employers seeks to increase the number of graduates qualified to enter key information technology positions that are difficult to fill for Maine employers.
There is good reason to focus on information technology, as the job outlook remains strong but inadequate numbers of students are opting to enroll in programs of study to prepare for employment.
In addition, for the strategy to produce the intended results, Maine employers will also need to take a close look at the competitiveness of the salaries they are paying for these key information technology occupations.
Students possessing sought-after degrees and qualifications in these fields tend to function in a national labor market. Latest occupational wage and salary data for these occupations from the Maine Department of Labor and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Maine median salaries tend to fall significantly below national median salaries for the same occupational category.
For example, the reported median salary in 2011 for computer systems analysts in Maine was $66,700 versus the U.S. median of $78,770.
For computer software engineers (applications), the median salary in Maine was $72,880 and $89,280 for the U.S.
If more students enter Maine information technology programs of study and gain valuable internship experience with Maine employers, let’s also make sure we offer them jobs with the competitive salaries set in the national labor market.
‘Ma Hurley’ inspired other teachers as well as students
Thank you for glorifying the life of Maria Hurley in the March 6 obituary (“Feature obituary: Maria Hurley, 92, demanding English teacher at Deering”). She helped not only students but also other teachers. Younger educators eagerly took ideas from her, and they became better teachers.
“Ma Hurley” was revered by her colleagues and students.
It is a little-known secret that when the superintendent of schools in Falmouth accepted the similar position in Portland, he said, “I want Maria Hurley to leave Falmouth and work in the Portland public schools.” She did, and Falmouth was not pleased.
Obviously, Portland benefited. “Scientia est potestas.” (“Knowledge is power.”)
Morton G. Soule
U.S. Navy must join efforts to shield rare whale species
Considered the rarest large whale species on Earth and among the rarest of all marine mammal species, North Atlantic right whales have, for centuries, found themselves in the wrong place at so many times in our nation’s short history.
They’re slow, and contain a high percentage of blubber, both of which made them the “right” whale to hunt during the height of 18th-century whaling, because they’re easy prey and float even after being killed.
Now, as pointed out in Russell Wray’s recent op-ed (“Maine Voices: Navy’s training-testing plans pose unacceptable risk to delicate species,” March 7) with fewer than 400 remaining, right whales are again under assault, this time from the U.S. Navy’s underwater testing programs that are known to damage the whale’s most precious sense – its ability to hear.
The fact that right whales – and other species likely to be affected by the Navy’s planned use of explosives and mid-frequency sonar – have Endangered Species Act protections should be enough to encourage the Navy to take every step possible to relocate and limit their activities, which even the Navy acknowledges will result in countless instances of marine mammals experiencing temporary and permanent damage and even death.
Here, on the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of species entrusted to its protection, we should be doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable plants and animals – and that “we” includes the U.S. Navy.
LePage ignores options in fighting food stamp fraud
The U.S. Department of Agriculture denied Gov. LePage’s proposal to require Electronic Benefits Transfer (food stamps) users to provide photo IDs at purchase, “saying that the use of photo ID would be ineffective in reducing fraud and abuse,” LePage said in his March 2 radio address.
LePage, true to form, fired back with an angry rant on his address. He called the USDA’s opinion “a shocking statement,” which to me speaks volumes to just how stubbornly the governor holds on to his disillusioned beliefs that state services like EBT cards are overrun by frauds and crooks.
That’s not to say that fraud doesn’t take place. What the USDA is saying is that the solution to getting rid of the fraud that does take place does not lie in the requirement of photo IDs. That is the reality of the situation, but LePage is “shocked” by it.
Rather than trying to figure out a better alternative based on what credible resources have told him, the governor is once again holding on to his own misguided opinions with complete disregard for the quality of life for struggling Mainers.
Chris Ledue Shorr
Sen. Collins wise to back states’ rights on marriage
In response to the March 14 letter by Marc Rigrodsky (“Collins’ marriage stance disappoints”), in which he was disappointed that Susan Collins did not join the rest of the Maine congressional delegation in urging the Supreme Court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional:
He believes this shows a lack of political courage on Susan Collins’ part.
I think that just the opposite is true. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to stand alone on your beliefs when others are going in a different direction. I think we need to encourage more state power in important issues of our times and less federal oversight.